Moana Pasifika have made Super Rugby history in stunning fashion, winning their first game in the competition with a 24-19 win against the Wellington Hurricanes. Drawn 19-19 at full time, Samoan and Hawkes Bay centre Danny Toala who had come on as a replacement scored the match-winning try in the third minute of extra time.
Moana Pasifika were deep in defense from behind their own 22 when replacement prop Tau Koloamatangi forced a critical turnover. Solomone Funaki handed it to Toala, who decided to write himself into the Super Rugby history books with a brilliantly placed kick and a hard chase down the field. Toala beat everyone to it, and was able to kick the ball ahead and regain it to dive through the defense for the try. Watch the DHL highlights here.
Many had written off the Pacific newcomers after their 59-12 loss to the Waikato Chiefs last weekend, despite this match being a home advantage at Auckland’s Mt Smart stadium.
Moana Pasifika matched the Hurricanes try for try throughout the 80 minutes despite trailing behind in possession and territory in the first half. At one stage, penalties were against the Pacific side by 13-1 in a match where they were also handed three yellow cards.
Made up of players from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, Moana Pasifika’s debut Super Rugby season has been disrupted by COVID-19, and they have only played two matches in five rounds before the Friday night match against the Hurricanes.
“We had to work hard from last week and we showed pride and passion,” Moana Pasifika captain Sekope Kepu said. “We worked really hard in the pre-season and we knew we had it in us. We just had to string it together tonight.”
All Blacks fullback Jordie Barrett scored the first try of the match after only six minutes, running off a short pass from center Peter Umaga-Jensen before slipping through the Moana Pasifika defense to score. In the 22nd minute, Henry Time-Stowers crashed through the Hurricane’s defense after a few phases of pick and go by the Moana Pasifika forward pack 5 metres from the tryline.
Winger Josh Moorby scored a try on debut for the Hurricanes in the 56th minute but Moana Pasifika replied in the 65th minute when Levi Aumua dashed down the left touchline to score a brilliant try after a disciplined nine phases of play by the Pacific Islanders.
The Hurricanes scored quickly through replacement prop Alex Fidow but Moana Pasifika tied the score at 19-19 with a try to Solomone Funaki three minutes from fulltime.
Henry Time-Stowers was a one-man defensive machine for Moana Pasifika, smashing ball carriers backwards and winning turnovers in a huge performance that earned the Samoan International the Man of the Match. Henry Time-Stowers, already identified as one of the on form back-rowers in the competition had been outstanding for Samoa against Tonga in the RWC qualifiers last year, and played for Canterbury in the 2021 NPC season. He captained the Samoa U20 in 2014 before earning himself a call up to the NZ U20 squad in 2015. The strong running No. 8 played two seasons for Bay of Plenty after his U20s career before signing with Australian Franchise Western Force, where he had been until he joined Moana Pasifika.
Moana Pasifika don’t have much time to celebrate their first win of Super Rugby. They play the Blues at Mt Smart Stadium on Tuesday as part of rescheduled matches due to the team’s being affected by covid-19. The Hurricanes return to Wellington in round 7 for a Sunday afternoon clash against the Chiefs.
Moana Pasifika 24 – Henry Time-Stowers try 22 min, Levi Aumua try 64 min, Solomone Funaki try 76 min, Danny Toala try 83 min, Christian Lealiifano, 2 conversions)
Hurricanes 19 – Jordie Barrett try 5 min, Josh Moorby try 55 min, Alex Fidow try 67 min Barrett conversion, Ruben Love conversion.